Cast iron dutch ovens have been a common method of cooking since the early 1800s. And after hundreds of years, they still dominate the market when it comes to cooking a wide variety of delicious meals. They’re a real one pot wonder!
After all those years, and with new types of appliances that they can be used with, have they been adapted to use with these? Below is a great guide to getting the most out of your cooking with a dutch oven, so let’s find out!
Table of Contents
- What is a dutch oven?
- The Material of your dutch oven
- Using your dutch oven on a gas stovetop
- Using your dutch oven on an electric stove
- Using your dutch oven on an induction stovetop
- Using a dutch oven on a glass stovetop
- Using your dutch oven in outdoor campsite cooking
- List of things to avoid when using a dutch oven
- Dutch oven on stove cooking: The final word
What is a dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are cast iron pots with tall thick walls and a removable lid. While this was not always so, the exterior is commonly coated in a porcelain enamel.
The enamel-coating has great non-stick capabilities and prevents the cookware from imparting flavors to the food.
Dutch ovens have excellent heat retention capabilities due to the thick walls and tight-fitting lid. This heat retention is great for slow-cooking.
As it evenly distributes heat through the food, your meal can be cooked low and slow, which really enhances the flavors!
The tight-fitting lid prevents any moisture from escaping the pot. This prevents food from drying out and makes for tender, juicy meals such as roast chicken.
Dutch ovens are highly versatile and can be used in many different ways. For example, you can simmer on the stovetop, bake bread, cook stews or soups, roast chickens or deep fry foods.
The Material of your dutch oven
The material from which your dutch oven is constructed plays a role in which stovetop can be used on what surface. There are two types of dutch ovens, but very versatile, but in slightly different ways
Bare cast iron
Traditional dutch ovens consisted of bare cast iron whose purpose is for withstanding extremely high temperatures, both on a campfire and in the kitchen.
The bare iron is extremely sturdy and is not susceptible to much wear and tear. Bare cast iron dutch ovens can be used both on the stove and in the oven.
They can come in many different shapes and sizes and some outdoor dutch ovens come with feet. These provide balance to the oven for standing out hot coals in a campfire. These dutch ovens are not suitable for a stovetop.
Bare cast iron dutch ovens with a flat bottom can be used on all surfaces. It is worth noting that these dutch ovens should be handled with care on surfaces like glass, as if not carefully handled it could cause scratches on the surface.
These dutch ovens are highly durable and if looked after well, can last a lifetime, or even two!
Bare cast iron dutch ovens require seasoning before use to prevent food from sticking to the bottom.
Enameled cast iron dutch ovens are my favorite, not only for their versatility but their beauty too. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes and the enamel coating is fabulous for cleaning as it has great non-stick capabilities.
Enamel dutch ovens have great versatility and can be used on glass, induction, electric and gas stove.
The enamel will also prevent the dutch oven from rusting, and there is no need to season your enameled dutch oven.
Le Creuset have the widest range of colors of dutch ovens and are my personal favorite. They offer a lifetime warranty and they double as a beautiful serving dish.
These dutch ovens should not be used on campfires, as the this could cause the enamel on your dutch oven to chip or crack!
Using your dutch oven on a gas stovetop
Dutch ovens are widely used on a gas stovetop. This is just one of the aspects that make them so versatile! They can be used for boiling, browning, simmering, and frying to name a few!
Remember that the open flames on a gas stove will cause your dutch oven to heat up far more quickly compared to other stovetops. It is best practice to start your temperature low and gradually raise it to prevent any cracks on the enamel.
It is important to regularly check your dutch oven for cracks and chips. The potential injury if heat is applied to a cracked dutch oven could be disastrous.
Particularly if using hot liquids like oil, not only would this destroy your kitchen but could cause serious personal injury too.
If you find any cracks and chips on your dutch oven and is from a reputable brand such as Le Creuset, then you’ll be entitled to at least a repair of your dutch oven.
If repair is not possible, then they will replace your dutch oven. Both brands provide a lifetime warranty.
It is worth noting that the Cuisinart lifetime warranty is quite limited, and only covers manufacturing defaults so cracks and chips from wear and tear won’t be covered in this instance.
They should not be used on open campfires as this temperature is uncontrolled and will cause your dutch oven to crack.
Best cooking methods to follow when using your dutch oven on the stovetop
By following these simple steps during the cooking process, you will extend the lifetime of your dutch oven
- Have your ingredients prepared for cooking – peel, chop, grate or dice your required ingredients and have spices, oils, sauces ready for use.
- Heat you stove to a low medium heat and add oil to the oven. Let heat for 5 minutes. If you’re required to add your food at a high heat, wait these 5 minutes and then turn up to desired temperature.
- Sear your meat, if using and then remove.
- Add more oil and then your onions, garlic, etc. to sautee for a couple of minutes
- Return your meat to the pot and add any other vegetables or liquids required for the recipe and stir until combined.
- Turn down the temperature so that food is lightly simmering and put on the lid.
- Cook for the time required
It is important to slowly heat up the dutch oven. This will prevent your oven from cracks and chips in the enamel and extend the lifetime of your dutch oven.
Also, reducing the temperature while simmering will prevent food from burning to the bottom of the oven. Once the lid is placed on the pot, the inside temperature will rise substantially, making your cooking susceptible to burning.
Using your dutch oven on an electric stove
Dutch ovens work really well on an electric burner. The heavyweight pot will not cause any damage to the stove surface by scratching it, so moving the pot about can be done without fear.
Electric plates take longer to heat up, which is great for your dutch oven as it shouldn’t cause cracking or chipping. With this in mind, the thick-walled pot will take longer to get to your desired temperature.
Things to avoid when using a dutch oven on an electric stove
Thanks to how well the cast iron retains heat, you don’t need to keep your electric stove at a high temperature. It is best to keep the stove at a medium temperature.
As it is slower to heat, you can put your dutch oven on the stove and put it at high heat to get the process started. This will bring your dutch oven to the correct temperature.
Once this is achieved, you can lower the temperature to medium heat. The high heat retention of your dutch oven will keep your food cooking at a nice level. This will prevent your food from scorching and burning to the bottom of the dutch oven.
Using your dutch oven on an induction stovetop
Dutch ovens have a high level of ferromagnetic material thanks to the cast iron, meaning that they are a great match with induction stove tops.
The heat is formed by magnetic waves that are passed through the pot, which create heat.
Remember that your induction plate can reach extreme temperatures almost instantly. So it is good practice to start off at a lower heat and work your way up to high heat. This practice will extend the lifetime of your dutch oven.
It may be worth investing in a heat diffuser for use on these surfaces . The dutch oven can cause the glass to sustain scratches. Heat diffusers can be purchased from Amazon:
Using a dutch oven on a glass stovetop
If you have glass or ceramic stovetops, there are a few precautions you must follow in order to prevent your oven from scratching the glass surface.
Follow these tips when using your cast iron dutch oven on glass stovetops to keep it in tiptop condition!
I have written a separate blog post on using cast iron on a glass stovetop to give you some more information. Check it out!
Using your dutch oven in outdoor campsite cooking
This is where I draw the line for enamel-coated dutch ovens. If used on an open fire, the enamel is susceptible to cracking and chipping. This is due to the uncontrolled temperature of the fire.
If your dutch oven is not enamel coated then you can definitely use your dutch oven on a campfire.
Make sure you season it first to ensure it is non-stick! You can find out through this page how to season your cast iron dutch oven.
Most Le Creuset products can be used on the stovetop, just take particular care in making sure your product is not ceramic or stoneware. These products need to be heated evenly, as they would in the oven and if exposed to heat from the stovetop, this will cause them to crack.
This is why these products are labeled bakeware and should only be used for this purpose.
While dutch ovens are quite durable, they are not invincible and can be damaged after prolonged misuse.
Common bad habits such as this list below must be avoided in order to extend the lifetime of your dutch oven. Make sure you avoid doing these!
Essentially yes, they are. A traditional dutch oven used to not be coated in enamel but over the years brands have started producing dutch ovens with an enamel coating due to the enhanced versatility the enamel coating gives.
I have a separate blog post surrounding this topic if you would like more information: Cocotte vs Dutch Oven: What is the difference?
With the correct knob handle on the lid, the Le Creuset signature range can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit! Be sure to check it is the correct one though. I have more information on the functionality of both the Le Creuset classic and signature ranges in another blog post, so check it out!
List of things to avoid when using a dutch oven
- Rapid heat changes
- Putting a dishwasher unsafe dutch oven in the dishwasher
- Using metal kitchen utensils
- Cleaning with a scouring pad or steel wool
Dutch oven on stove cooking: The final word
Dutch ovens really are superior in terms of flexibility in cooking. While their price tag can be eye-watering, they truly are an investment piece and can become a family heirloom.
If you’re wanting high versatility cookware with the lowest upkeep and easiest cleaning, I recommend sticking with an enameled dutch oven.
These are a beautiful addition to your kitchen and will add a lovely pop of color. They are an excellent addition to any kitchen and a great way to up-skill your cooking!